What Is Chronic Dry Eye & How To Treat it?
Chronic dry eye disease is an inflammatory condition of tears and the surface of your eye. It is also termed as dry eye disease, dry eye syndrome, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca. The surface is often termed as the ocular surface in the medical language. It includes a group of syndromes, which usually cause indications of dryness and complete eye irritation. It may also cause itchiness, burning sensation or a persistent sensitivity – along with periodic blurred vision. This symptom has been identified in a max of 5% to 30% of the population aged between 50+ and older. In addition to this usual account of suffering patients, a total of 20% of the population in Australia may suffer from less severe symptoms of chronic dry eye disease. Out of which at least 48% of the office workers have to face the less, mild or extreme symptoms.
What Is The Cause Of Chronic Dry Eye Disease?
If we look at the facts, the exact cause is still unidentified. However, a lot of external factors may play a major role in worsening or initiating the symptoms. Reasons such as long working hours, exposure to a smartphone, tablet, computer, AC, heat, dust, and allergens – may aggregate the source to start the chronic dry eye disease. However, you shouldn’t be confusing the dry eye syndrome or chronic dry syndrome with simple eye allergies. Furthermore, there are two different types of chronic dry eye syndromes, these are aqueous tear-deficient and evaporative. Both of them can easily cause stinging, burning, scratching, irritation and other such discomforts, along with heavily dipping tears.
Tear Film And Its Role In Your Eye
Nature has gifted humans with naturally build tear film. It consists of the following components which are playing a major role in your eyes. These are:
- Aqueous, and
The lipid is the outer layer of the tear film. Further, it is covered by Meibomian glands. And. These are in the upper and lower eyelids. Their duty is to continuously soothe your eyes, and not let the tears to evaporate quickly. Next is Aqueous, and it is a watery layer in your eyes. This is produced by the lacrimal glands. Your tears are almost composed by this component. Further, this component also nourishes your conjunctiva and cornea. Plus factor is that all the foreign materials are easy washed-off your eyes due to these components.
Last comes the Mucin. And it is the beaker of cells of your cornea and conjunctiva. This produces the lubricant of protective tears. Further, it helps to spread out the watery layer of tears all-across your eyes to keep them wet and trap foreign objects. In this way, your ocular surface cannot get damaged easily.
Do You Get Both Eyes Affected?
It has been observed that chronic dry eye disease may usually occur in both eyes. However, it may affect one of your eyes more than the other. You’ll feel discomfort wearing contact lenses. Your eyes may develop mucus in or around them. You may feel pain, discomfort, blurry vision or itchiness along with a burning sensation in your eyes. Furthermore, this may also affect your vision with an increase or decrease in a negative fashion. Along with that, your eyes may be even more sensitive to light which is also going to be another medical concern that your eye specialist will guide you about.
What Else Can Be Expected With Chronic Dry Eye Disease?
As explained above, you shouldn’t be confusing eye allergy with chronic dry eye disease. As soon as you feel the symptoms, immediately visit your eye care specialist without any delay. Do not try any DIY treatments at home as those may worsen the condition. Patients suffering from chronic dry eye disease are quite prone to common eye allergies and may easily catch them. Irreversible vision may not occur, but yes fluctuation vision may be a huge problem to tackle with this syndrome. Therefore, you should immediately consult with an expert optometrist.
What Are The Earliest Noted Symptoms Of Chronic Dry Eye?
These include almost all or some of the following depending on what stage the disease us at:
- Eye redness
- Scratchy sensation
- Trouble wearing contact lenses
- Persistent and painful gritty feeling
- Eye dryness
- Intense tearing
- Blurry vision
In medical research, it has been seen that the usual symptoms may come and go in mild cases. However, in extreme cases these above-mentioned symptoms are prolonged. Thus, ultimately causing chronic dry eye syndrome. Therefore, you should take good care of your eyes.
Never Forget To Measure The Age Factor
The age factor is important to consider in chronic dry eye disease. Usually, the aging factor is going to affect your eyes and the tear production level. Therefore, the early you get this syndrome treated the better. As the lipid and mucin layers may not be producing enough lubrication to keep your tears stable. Another common form of this disease is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis or dry mouth. The dry mouth is also called as the Sjogren’s syndrome in medical terms. The autoimmune disease – Sjogren’s syndrome usually attack your tears and salivary glands (lubricating glands). Thus, forming the cause or initiation of chronic dry eye syndrome. Furthermore, other contributing factors are:
- Contact lenses
- Refractive surgery (such as LASIK)
- Computers and smartphones usage
How Does It Get Diagnosed?
Usually, your optometrist will conduct a general eye examination. Furthermore, they may suggest conducting an over-all blood test or physical tests to identify any underlying or hereditary diseases. Next, the eye specialist may also seek complete medical information. The sad reality is that chronic dry eye symptom has no cure as of now. Other contributing factors may be one or all of the following:
- High blood pressure medications, like diuretics
- Heart medications
- Medication used for Parkinson disease
- Sleeping pills
- Birth control medicines
- Pain relievers
Treatments For Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome
Despite not having any cure, the symptoms can be managed or treated if correct medical assistance is observed by the patient. Your optometrist may suggest artificial tears, eye ointments, and antibiotics. Next, you may be asked to stay away from environmental triggers. Things such as low humid room, hair dryers, or heat exposure are suggested. Restasis, which is a medicine prescription made of cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion 0.05% is suggested. This medicine works with your body to produce tears on its own. Next, the eye doctor may suggest a temporary or permanent punctual plug. Or a surgical procedure is suggested to close your tear duct to prevent the spread of the chronic dry eye syndrome.
Eye Tests To Identify The Severity Of The Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome
In chronic dry eye syndrome, you may find o relief from the artificial tears. Your eyes may get sensitive to light and experience pain and irritation. You may also start losing vision. This situation may require rigorous drop therapy or the use of plugs or other measures. The optometrist may use a slit lamp. This is a lighted, microscope-like device that lightens your eyes. Dry spots may occur if your eye is a tear deficient. Your optometrist may count in to suggest all or any one of the following tests for identifying the chronic dry eye syndrome:
- Schirmer test
- Fluorescein stain test
- Rose Bengal stain test
- Lissamine Green Stain test
- Tear Film Normalization test
Your eye doctor may also place a watery eye drop in your eyes. After a few seconds, if your vision improves – you do have the dry eye syndrome. However, if you still find your vision blurred – then it is the chronic dry eye syndrome. Do consult with another optometrist to get a second opinion on your condition, diagnosis, and treatment. The chronic dry eye syndrome is an underdiagnosed disorder for eye experts and doctors to easily treat.
Connect with an expert optometrist/doctor at the Spectacle Site to get a comprehensive eye examination. Call us @ 1300 773 274 or visit us at your nearest location from the below.